Mortal Kombat Armageddon


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


It started with one idea, a final hit to "finish" your opponent as an insult. Then came the idea, a stroke of genius that's brought millions, if not billions of dollars since: fatalities. Controversy over the classic head rip, heart punch, decapitating uppercut, and brutal electrocution is the stuff Mortal Kombat was sold on.

mkarmageddon1ps2.jpg (45270 bytes)We land at Mortal Kombat Armageddon, years after gamers realized how terrible the original entry was in the gameplay department. Oddly enough, the franchise morphed in a deeply complex brawler, easily consuming far more practice time on a per character basis than the entire roster of the 2-D games combined. Armageddon changes nothing, sticking with the new formula that received mixed reactions, while tossing in enough extras to state truth when the term "complete" is used.

Like the previous entry Deception, Armageddon brings with it a mini game nearly as fun - if not more so - than the core fighting. Motor Kombat is a full-on kart racer that with time could easily be fleshed out into a full product. The track number is small, but it's definitely part of the MK mold. Fatalities and special moves keep this fresh in single or multi-player.

Konquest returns, an adventure game within the game that has been heightened by extra production values. Following the concept of Shaolin Monks, this is a full beat-em-up, complete with wild combo strings, voice acting, hidden items, and boss fights that use the one-on-one engine. While far too linear to be of interest to hardcore adventure fans, this extra mode unlocks great content, and it's simple enough to become successful given the fast pace.

Both online and offline modes come back to the main game, and with 60 characters, you'll be here awhile. Every character, regardless of how obscure, is here. Storylines have made significant changes to some (Liu Kang is immediately apparent) over the years, and the addition of fighting styles have created entirely new fighters out of old favorites. Multiple levels have been re-imagined in full 3-D from the franchise's earlier brawls, and the stage fatalities have never been this painful.

However, numbers are not the true story behind Armageddon. While most of the items are locked initially, there's a full-on create-a-fighter mode. It's deep, complete with combo creation, fighting styles, weapons, and more.

The same goes for fatalities, now morphed into a system that lets players to create their own strings. Funny for all the wrong reasons, it's a statement on how desensitized we are when ripping out a still beating heart isn't enough. Now you can rip the heart, strip the brain, take a leg, tear an arm, beat them with the latter, land a low blow, snap their neck, tear out the spine, grab a rib, and then gleefully watch as their head is detached with your bare hands. That's one string out of thousand possibilities, and not one including the differences when using weapons, when the fighter is in different positions, and the various levels that mean unfortunate ends for your unlucky adversary.

It's a shame the actual fighting never found a way out its rut. This is the final Mortal Kombat before we're recipients of a new generation of the series, and it's more obvious than ever that it simply doesn't work. Mastering all but a few characters requires a ridiculously long time commitment, and the lack of focus on whether this is a hand to hand or weapons fighter further causes problems. Balance is obviously tossed to the wayside, though the parry and defensive options can even up any fight between solid players.

With the stiff fighting, Armageddon isn't what fans probably were hoping for as a send off. The amount of content (kontent?) is enough to keep any player going for extended periods because it's addicting to see the sheer variety in the unlockables. Armageddon receives a pass for nostalgia, graphically disgusting violence, amount of playtime, and fun factor of seeing how many times you can kill a friend in a single fatality.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 11:06 PM